Chinese New Year Facts for Kids – 3,800 year-old Chinese Spring Festival

Chinese New Year is a Chinese festival that recalls the centuries-old traditions, culture, stories, myths, and just about every worshiping and entertainment activities. The Chinese new year is by far the most significant event for Chinese people. It is also called Spring Festival or a Lunar New Year.  It is celebrated in January or February but there is no exact date as it changes every year. This article is all about Chinese New Year so let’s us dive deeply into many more Chinese New Year facts for kids.

Chinese new year facts for kids
Fifteenth day celebrations. Chinese New Year Facts for Kids. Photo by surveycrest.com

Chinese New Year Facts for Kids

When is Chinese New Year 2018?

  • The Chinese New Year 2018 is on February 16th, initiating the year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac.
  • It usually occurs on the new moon from 21 January to 20 February.

What Day is Chinese New Year 2018?

  • The Chinese New Year 2018 is on Friday.

History of Chinese New Year

  • The Chinese festival is 3,800 years old
  • The festival reflects on the worshipping activities in ancient times in the agrarian society.
  • The Emperor Wudi in the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) fixed the date for Spring Festival. He authorized the use of lunar year for the Lunar New Year.
  • Chinese New Year has numerous names such as Yuanri, Yuandan, and Yuanchen since the ancient times.
  • There was probably no concept of year and the ancient people used to remember the day based cycles of seasons as well as their planting experience. Thanks to the Shang Dynasty (17th Century BC to 1046 BC) which introduced the concept of
  • The festival remembers the centuries-old activities of worshipping.
  • The ancient people had different names for the year. They used to call Shangri, Gaisui, and Yuanri. The October was thought to be the beginning of the new year cycle.
  • The Emperor Wudi suggested the first day of January in Chinese lunar year to be the New year’s Day.
  • In Song Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, the festival finally earned its name as The Dynasty also suggested a change in the Spring Festival’s function—from worshipping activities to a social entertainment.
  • Song Dynasty (930 – 1279 AD) also introduced the firecrackers for the first time in the festival because black powder wasn’t invented until then.
  • The Chinese New Year attracted even more attention in the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 AD) when the Dynasty rather encouraged people-to-people interaction. The Qing Dynasty also started dragon dance, walking on stilts, lion dance, and gifts.
  • The Chinese government abandoned the Chinese New Year perhaps for the first time in 1912. They agreed to take up Gregorian calendar instead of lunar calendar. However, people refused to accept the change and the government was forced to embrace both calendars.

When Did Chinese New Year Start?

  • The Chinese New Year began as early as 3,800 years ago.
  • The origin of the Spring Festival goes back to the worshipping activities in the agrarian society in ancient times.
  • The date of the festival wasn’t fixed by then. People used to celebrate on the completion of their cycle of seasons.
chinese new year facts for kids
Spring Festival in Chinatown. Chinese New Year Facts for Kids. Photo by thesun.co.uk

Chinese New Year Food 2018

  • The Chinese New Year comes with a good many number of Chinese dishes.
  • On the New Year’s Eve, people arrange a reunion dinner which they call Nian Ye Fan.
  • The dinner is served in one of the family members (most probably the senior member).
  • On the New Year’s Eve, traditional Chinese dishes are served including chicken, duck, wax-curved meat, lobster, pork, and fish.

Chinese New Year Dish 2018

  • Buddha’s Delight, a vegetarian Chinese dish, offered on the first of the New Year. Fat choy, hair-like algae, is an important food item of this dish.
  • On the New Year’s Eve, Chinese also enjoy fish.
  • Boiled Chicken is yet another dish that recalls those people who just can’t afford to buy an expensive chicken.
  • Jiaozi resembles sycee dish in many of its food items.
  • Melon seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Jau gok, a fairly popular dish in Cantonese people.
  • Leek is served with Chinese sausages.
  • Mandarin oranges.
  • Long and uncut Noodles reflect on the people’s lifespan and the hope that people may want as long as they live.
  • Rougan is not only slightly saltish—it is little sweet too.
  • Niangao is a pretty famous dish in the eastern China. Many Chinese-Philippines also eat Niangao.

Chinese New Year Gifts 2018

  • The Chinese New Year comes with a good many number of gifts.
  • Elder people or those who are married, usually pass on Red Envelopes to the junior or unmarried members.
  • They will also give Red packets to the young children.
  • Red packets symbolize the fact they are going to put down the evil spirits.
  • Red packets contain money but the amount should be in even numbers. The odd-number amounts are typically offered at funerals. The last digit of the amount determines the even and odd numbers. For instance, 14 is an even number while 15 is an odd number.
  • Some numbers such as the number six (6) are lucky in that the one who gets it is likely to have smooth year ahead. Similarly, the number four (4) is probably the worst because it represents death.
  • Red packets can also contain chocolate coins,
  • Chinese people usually call an act for asking red packets as Mandarin. A married person is not required to refuse the offer of red packets because if he does so, he’ll probably have a bad luck in the new year.
  • Cakes, candles, biscuits, and chocolates also make up the Chinese new year gifts.

Non-Gift Items at the Spring Festival

  • Handkerchief, black-and-white colored cloth as well as towels should not be part of the new year gifts. They are thought to be the items of a funeral.
  • Sharp object such as knife and scissor symbolize cutting relationships. Thus, they are forbidden too.
  • Clocks and watches show that the time is running out. It probably represents the shorter lifespan.
  • Shoes and
chinese new year facts for kids
Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, London 2016. Chinese New Year facts for kids. IMAGE: PA: PRESS ASSOCIATION ARCHIVE.

Happy Chinese New Year Greetings

Prominent among the Chinese New Year greetings include four character-greetings. These are:

  • 金玉滿堂 (May your wealth come to fill a hall)
  • 萬事如意(May all your wishes be fulfilled)
  • 一本萬利 (May a tiny investment brings ten-thousandfold profits)
  • 吉慶有餘(May your happiness be without limit)
  • 福壽雙全 (May your longevity and happiness be complete)

Chinese New Year Eve

  • On the Chinese New Year’s Eve the biggest event is the reunion dinner.
  • People spend time with their loved ones and special meats are served at the tables.
  • People in northern China are thought to make dumplings (jiaozi) so that they may enjoy it during midnight. It is mandatory to make dumplings in northern China.
  • In southern China, the new year cake called niangao is usually cooked. People send cake pieces to their neighbors and relatives.
  • Once they are done with dinner, a few families visit the worshipping areas to pray for the new year.
  • Some family members do arrange an event to hold a countdown of the new year.
  • Chinese people also light firecrackers to drive away the evil spirits whilst keeping the household doors closed until morning.

Chinese New Year Symbols

  • One of the most popular Chinese symbols is a fu character which is a red diamond in shape. It symbolizes blessings or happiness. The Fu character is typically displayed on the entrance of Chinese homes.
  • Red color stands for joy in the Chinese New Year celebrations. It also symbolizes sincerity, truth, and virtue.
  • Sunflower symbolizes that you’ll have a pretty good year ahead.
  • Eggplant stands for a healer in that it heals just about any sickness in the coming year.
  • Kumquat and Narcissus recognize prosperity.
  • Chom Mon Plant is going to offer you serenity.
  • Bamboo is a plant which can be used anytime of the year.

Chinese New Year Decorations

  • On Spring Festival, Chinese decorates their houses not only from the inside—they also lit their streets.
  • Many people hang red posters with Chinese idioms printed on it.
  • Some however prefer to display Chinese calligraphy on their walls. It is known as Fai Chun,
  • Other Chinese New Year decorations include couplets New year pictures, papercutting, and Chinese knots.
chinese new year facts for kids
Famous dragon lantern. Chinese New Year facts for kids. IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES

Crafts & Ornaments

  • Chinese New Year lanterns are probably not the same as those displayed in Mid-Autumn Festival.
  • On Spring Festival, the lanterns are not only red, they are oval in shape.
  • As is typical of Chinese tradition, the lanterns are all made of paper. They are called paper lanterns.
  • On day 15 of the Chinese New Year, the lanterns are displayed in many different colors. Not only do they differ in brightness, they’re also quite different in shapes and sizes.
  • Lion dance and dragon dance are pretty famous ornaments on New Year. Dragons and lions dance as the drums beat in the background. They dance to force all the evil spirits to leave,
  • Fortune gods such as Che Kung and Cai Shen Ye also make their impact on the day.

Who Celebrates Chinese New Year?

  • While Spring Festival is mainly a Chinese cultural event, it isn’t really limited to China only. Since Chinese are spread all over the world, many different countries are thought to celebrate Chinese New Year.
  • Chinese-Indonesians also celebrate it and the official name for the Chinese New Year is Tahun Baru Imlek or Sin Cia.
  • All Chinese and many non-native Chinese celebrate Spring Festival in most Southeast Asian countries.

Chinese New Year Celebration

  • The celebrations of a Spring Festival are not particularly limited to China. Although most Chinese travels to China at least 15 days before the start of the Festival, many fancy staying abroad.
  • The biggest Chinese New Year celebrations occur in Kuala Lumpur, Klang, and Penang in Malaysia,
  • Malaysian people also mix their traditional native events with the Spring Festival.
  • In Singapore, the biggest celebrations are held in Chinatown where streets are decorated with colorful (mostly red) ornaments and lanterns.
  • In Philippines, the Chinese New Year is known to be the central festival for all Filipino-Chinese individuals.
  • One of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations is also held in Sydney where each year more than 600,000 people attend the Festival.
  • The oldest and probably the largest Spring Festival outside Asia are held in California, San Francisco. The event is called San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade.
chinese new year facts for kids
Spring Festival is the most colorful day for Chinese. Chinese New Year facts for kids.

Chinese New Year Activities for Kids

Day 1 Activities

  • The first day of the Chinese new year probably starts with the worshipping activities.
  • Prominent among the first-day activities include burning bamboo sticks, lighting firecrackers and fireworks.
  • Some people do not prefer to eat meat on the first day because (they think) it would affect their lifespans.
  • People do not use broom on the first day for they believe that a good fortune must not be swept away.
  • Young and subadults typically pay a visit to their senior family members in an attempt to honor their statuses,
  • Lion dance is also pretty famous on the first day and it symbolizes ritual not only to lead the Chinese New Year—it also stands for wiping out all the possible effects of evil spirits.
  • Married family members likely send red envelopes to others within the family. These envelopes contain cash.

Day 2 Activities

  • Chinese people call the second day of the Chinese New Year as the beginning of the year.
  • On the second day, married daughters, who don’t get opportunity to meet their real parents too often, pay a visit to them.
  • Businessmen usually start their businesses on the second day with the belief that this day would bring luck and prosperity in the days to come.

Day 3 Activities

  • The third day is called Red mouth. It is also known as Chigou’s Day in Chinese language meaning red dog.
  • In villages, people would burn papers over trash fires.
  • On this day, no one visits the other because it is thought to be an unlucky day for guests.
  • Every Chinese stays at home on the third day of the Chinese New Year. In Hong Kong people call it the Day of the Poor Devil.

Day 7 Activities

  • The seventh day is known as Renri. It birthday of every Chinese citizen.
  • In Malaysia and Singapore, people will cook yusheng and raw fish to symbolize wealth and prosperity.

Day 8 Activities

  • The eighth day of the Chinese New Year also brings annual dinner.
  • On this day, people usually recall the birth of the ruler of heaven, Jade Emperor,
  • It’s a working day and people are most likely to host lunch or dinner with their employees. The lunch is meant to recognize the employees’ efforts they have put for the whole year.

Day 9 Activities

  • Chinese offer prayers to Jade Emperor on the ninth day of the Chinese New Year.
  • It is actually the birthday of the Jade Emperor.
  • The day is known as Ti Kong Dan.
  • The ninth day is more important than the first day of the Chinese New Year.
  • Chinese people cook six vegetables on this day: noodles, vegetable bowls, tangyuan, cakes, unripe betel, and fruits.
  • A roasted pig, fruits, and tea are served to honor the elders of the family.

Day 15 Activities

  • Chinese call the 15th day as Yuanxiao It is also known as Shangyuan Festival, Lantern Festival, and Chap Goh Mei.
  • In Singapore, Malaysia, and China, the day 15 is celebrated as the Valentine’s Day.
  • People also lit candles outside the houses.
  • It is the last day of the Chinese New Year Activities.

Chinese New Year Facts for Kids – Video